Well, I am not adamant about the idea of having to create a rule about buying or not buying animal products, per se. I'm just saying that it seems to me a convenient way to make sure that I have a piece of code running in the background of my mind every time I need to make a decision, so that that decision comes automatically, rather than being a new matter of internal debate every time. This is only because there are always other personal factors that influence my decisions when I am buying or not buying animal products. The fact that buying them is morally wrong and contributes to supporting an idea of society which I don't like is not always the winning factor when it comes to making a decision, especially in a situation where a decision must happen so quickly and so frequently as in when buying food. While I agree that overall this wish to just "do the right thing" has been enough so far for me to make the right decision the vast majority of the times, and I recognise the benefit of just building new habits as a very effective way to meet the goal, there is still a small percentage of the times in which other factors have won, and I did buy that candy bar that contained milk, for example. Although I know that my situation and my "personal circumstances" might be potentially more complicated than the average person's, I wonder whether the difference between me and someone who is successfully making vegan choices 100% of the times is that they are able to define the type of person they want to be and act accordingly in virtue of that self-qualification. And, whether we call it a "rule" or not, that self-qualification must come in a form that allows you to think of yourself in a particular way. But because generally, in life, I struggle to identify with anything, I'm the kind of person who is constantly taken off-guard when asked a direct question that involves some sort of self-labelling, I found with veganism it is not any different, no matter how much more ethically meaningful that might be if compared to the genre of music I like, or whether I am an introvert or not, or other things which bear no ethical stock at all. And yes, this has to do with the fact that I am always open to change my mind about anything, because I don't feel like anything defines me particularly... apart perhaps from this impossibility to integrate things into my identity (!).Why? I might need to read more into Psychology (which of course, varies from person to person). I don't know why you're so adamant about this concept of attaching identity, or why you think it's such a necessity for you.
Watch this clip from CGP Grey, maybe it'll help?
I mean, so far just trying to do the right thing has not come with a 100% success rate for me, and because (as we touched upon) I am painfully aware of the complexity of the scenario I don't see how I could ever achieve such success rate, or whether it's even the best thing to strive for.
There are fundamentally two reasons for this:
1) The "current historical period" I mentioned in the previous post and the complications that come with it. In brevis, reducetarianism taken seriously already makes such an impact on society than making a vegan choice 100% of the times, rather than a percentage close to that, seems pointless, from a consequentialist point of view. Also, I am worried that hitting that 100% would come with more drawbacks than advantages: feeling morally superior to anyone who is not vegan and therefore damaging the cause by essentially being unpleasant for all the non-vegans around you, rather than a positive example – which, let's face it, is probably the biggest problem with veganism right now: people perceive vegans as hostile and off-putting. With that, perhaps the feeling that you're already "doing so much" and thus you're done trying to improve the world, yourself, or the lives of the people around you (I wonder how common this is, it's debatable). In a different historical period, where people eat way less animal products, hitting 100% vegan choices would be much more impactful.
2) The social component. It's again a cultural-historical problem, but I guess the vast majority of people who approach veganism have to give up on something that belongs to their culture, or simply to moments of conviviality with their family/friends or even in work situations. Perhaps I feel this particularly strongly because I come originally from a place where the culture does really revolve around food, but every time I go to visit my family, once or twice a year, I know that I am depriving both me and them of the opportunity to gather around food that they were happy to prepare for the occasion and that used to be one point of connection between us. Even though my perspective on that food has changed, theirs hasn't. And even though I am vocal about the reasons why mine has changed, I simply can't assault them with a stream of reasons why all the time –– it's going to be a lengthly process and likely not everybody's mind will change (not to mention that I would't want my family to go vegan because I can't be sure that they will be capable to handle the nutritional aspects correctly, and we know the state of the available medical assistance in this respect). So, I could either feel proud of my 100% veganism, or be able to make an exception to enjoy time with my family and elements of my cultural background. Is it worth sacrificing these other aspects of my life only to feel ethically virtuous all the time? And doesn't hurting my family make me less morally virtuous, anyway?
I've just partially answered to this but, also to answer @brimstoneSalad 's question on whether I disagree that all other things being equal a person who chooses not to eat meat is more moral than a person who chooses to eat meat, another problem with feeling morally superior is that you can never quantify how morally good you are compared to others, because "all other things being equal" is never a condition in human experience. 1) apart from people you know really well which arguably you might judge, you can never know how morally virtuous other people are in the same or other aspects of their life which have nothing to do with veganism, so your sense of superiority might very well be unjustified; and 2) ethics and morality don't seem to me quantifiable values, rather they are a matter of quality: being "more moral" than someone else seems to me impossible. Being vegan is one way of being morally virtuous, but there are many others, and it's only arbitrarily that you might decide that one very important value is lessening animal suffering in the world; someone else might have different priorities, and they might just be as admirable. I don't think I can fully subscribe to the idea that there is an adamant scale of degrees of moral goodness, where, say, murder is the worst thing you can possibly do, and, e.g., lying is much better. There are different types of lies and different types of murders. Killing animals cannot be equated to shooting a child for no reason, because the cultural context around it matters. And even though we should strive to create a society where killing animals is deemed as wrong as killing humans, right now we cannot consider people who eat animals as morally wrong as people who kill children, because these are not the rules of our current society, and intention matters.I don't know how else to respond to the former part of this claim, but I want to know, why do you think having a sense of moral superiority is dangerous, and that many vegans are mistaken in holding it?
Veganism reduces animal suffering and environmental damages, and is fundamentally healthy (though without supplements it is also a lot of work, thus I'm not 100% sure how sustainable long-term): I am interested in all three aspects and I have no doubts that it's the way to go, I'm just not sure, given the complexity of the problem, whether it's worth striving to be 100% vegan, or whether I should take a slightly more moderate approach.Why exactly do you want to be vegan?
I hope I managed to make it a little clearer above, too, but my problem under this respect is sheerly with 'labelling' myself, not so much 'with what' I'm labelling myself, and I do not necessarily need to label myself, but I think it might be useful or the only way to achieve 100% vegan choices, if that has to be the goal at all. I hope I showed a bit of why the situation appears to me to be more multi-faceted and complex than just "eating animal products is wrong, thus I will just avoid it". I do feel guilty when I choose an animal product, but I am also not always psychologically able to avoid that, at least for now; I do feel guilty when I say yes to eating animal products with my family, but I would also feel guilty missing out on our own traditions and disregarding their own outlook on life and the point they're at; I do feel guilty when I choose an animal product, but also isn't that guilt somewhat healthy (it reinforces my awareness; it makes me strive to make better choices; it keeps me humble), if compared to the drawbacks of the pride that might replace that guilt instead? And these are only examples. Someone might call them "excuses", I'm sure, but I think that would be simplistic and short-sighted.I don't see why labeling yourself as a moral person is not sufficient enough. Morally speaking, you should always feel guilty when you do something wrong regardless of any labels.
It's a pickle .